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Former Zambian President Chiluba’s Graft Trial Begins Monday

Zambia’s former President Frederick Chiluba is expected to testify today (Monday) to answer charges he stole over $500,000 from state coffers while he was president. But Chiluba’s supporters cried foul saying his trial is yet another attempt by President Levy Mwanawasa to intimidate his political enemies. This comes after the government claimed Friday it has recovered money and assets worth 60 million dollars stolen during Chiluba’s rule, from 1991 to 2001. Chiluba dismissed the government’s assertion saying it is media propaganda to back up its allegations of corruption against him. Emmanuel Mwamba is the spokesman for former President Chiluba. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, Lusaka that the world would hear the former president’s side of the story today.

“This is the matter in which the former president is charged with theft and corruption charges amounting to half a million dollars. He is expecting to begin trial that is expected to last maybe the next two to three weeks. The trial will start with him testifying, but he has called various witnesses, a dozen witnesses or so,” Mwamba pointed out.

He said the former president hold contrasting views on the recovery of the assets, which the government claimed were stolen.

“He has challenged the issue of seizure of these assets. Some of the issues are in court and the bulk of the seizures were done on purchases done by government itself. So, Dr. Chiluba has maintained that government was seizing its own assets. And these are the lists of assets they brand as government seizing properties of corruption, when in fact these were things that belong to the government in the first place. It’s just a matter of misunderstanding that arose,” he said.

Mwamba said the former president has maintained that the government was mounting what he called half-truths media trial against him.

“Dr. Chiluba states that this is propaganda to prop up their case that there was acts of serious corruption in his government,” Mwamba noted.

He dismissed as bogus speculations that President Mwanawasa would pardon Chiluba if he admits his complicity in graft during his 10-year rule.

“There is no deal at all. Dr. Chiluba maintains his innocence. He has insisted that he is innocent and that President Mwanawasa has used it, you know it is a political process. He (President Mwanawasa) has not intended it to seek fairness or justice in anyway,” he said.

Mwamba said the former president hopes for a free and fair trial.

“His prayer has always been that he should have a fair trial. His prayer has always been that he should be allowed the due process of the law; his prayer has been that the trial should not have been in the press in the manner in which it has been because he is portrayed as corrupt to the world before they even hear the facts or even before they hear his side of the story. That has been his major complaint. It is an uphill battle, but we are glad that we are at this stage where he would be able to say something and begin to defend himself,” Mwamba pointed out.